Burlington priest asks parishioners to tell bishop of his pastoral care, mental health

Joe Bukuras   By Joe Bukuras for CNA


Fr. Peter Williams, pastor of Holy Family parish in Springfield, Vt. / Holy Family Parish Springfield Vermont screenshot via YouTube.

Burlington, Vt., Jan 17, 2022 / 09:10 am (CNA).

Father Peter Williams says the Diocese of Burlington is trying to remove him as pastor of his parish because he will neither be tested regularly for COVID-19 nor be masked. He is asking his parishioners to testify on his behalf, because he says the diocese, and his family, are trying to prove that he is physically and mentally unfit for the job.

The priest, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, is pastor of Holy Family parish in Springfield, Vermont, 120 miles southeast of Burlington.

“Being more of the ilk of a patriot and being one who is in support of freedom and personal rights, I balk at any incursion into my rights as a human being, certainly a U.S. citizen, and that was my objection when the bishop started directing matters of my health,” Williams said in a Jan. 5 video.

Williams is referring to Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne’s September 2021 letter to clergy in which he requested that they all be vaccinated. Coyne said that alternately, any cleric who choose to remain unvaccinated must test for COVID-19 every other week and be masked during ministry. Williams, who chose to remain unvaccinated, refused.

Williams said that he then received correspondence from Coyne which stated that he had 14 days to comply, or Coyne would suspend him.

Williams, who maintained he has canonical rights as a pastor to remain in his post, has since hired a canon lawyer and said he will fight the case until Coyne officially removes him through a canonical process.

“I have no intention of resigning as pastor because that is my job,” Williams’ said. “That is what I do.”

Now, he said, his family and the diocese are trying to prove that he is physically and mentally unhealthy. But he maintains he’s as healthy as ever.

“Now, I’m not aware of how my family members made that assessment,” he said. “All they needed to do was to watch the videos of Mass that we have ongoing or give me a call, none of which happened.”

Now, he said, “the case seems to be revolving around my health and my mental health.”

Williams said that for the sake of maintaining normalcy in his parish, he chose to keep his correspondences with the bishop to himself. But the pressure became too much of a burden. He added that it broke his heart when his family got involved.

Williams said that his canon lawyer suggested that he gather some names of people who would be willing to testify on his behalf to Coyne.

“So I’m asking all of my parishioners, if you are inspired or if you are interested, to write a letter on my behalf stating how you think I’m doing as a pastor and how you would evaluate my mental health,” he said.

In the diocese’s statement issued to CNA, Coyne declined to speak on the contents of the video “in order to protect the good name and reputation of all involved.”

“The present pastoral situation in Springfield is a sad and difficult situation that Bishop Coyne is addressing with care for all concerned, most especially the people of Holy Family Parish,” the statement said.

“The number one priority of the Diocese of Burlington is to offer the Sacraments and the fullness of parish life to the Catholic community in a safe environment that protects the health and well-being of our priests and parishioners,” the diocese said.

When asked if Williams’ claims are true, the diocese told CNA it is not commenting on the content of Williams’ video and added that personnel issues are confidential and it cannot discuss any details.

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    • Why is a vaccinated person’s fear of the inefficacy of the shot my responsibility because I won’t take it? In other words, if the vaccine doesn’t work, which we now know it does not, why is it my responsibility to make you feel more comfortable by taking it myself? All the “science” is now proving that COVID is transmitted, spread, and causing hospitalizations among those vaccinated. What then is my responsibility? I think I’ll stick to the corporal works of mercy and help you if you get sick, rather than run away in fear. I will also mourn for and bury those who die.

  1. So, it’s come to this, has it? The Bishops who closed down our churches for months and cancelled Easter in 2020, eager to please secular authorities, have the audacity to try to exile our too scarce priests on the pretext that refusing an EXPERIMENTAL vaccine somehow makes one “crazy”. Its disgusting and a disgrace that they would do this. Evidently they think a great deal of their supposed status and won’t countenance any challenge to their authority. Not even a Bishop has the right to direct another person’s healthcare. Trying to separate out non-vaxxers by making them test constantly, isolate, and separate themselves from their congregations further by hiding their faces behind ineffective masks, is nothing but an exercise in totalitarianism. A way to make them second class citizens , as is currently being attempted in Canada and Australia, the new totalitarian paradises. In my church, the priest on the altar is a solid 30 feet from the nearest congregant. What is the point of testing and masking in a setting such as this? Who is serving his folks better, the Priest who wants to remain human looking to his congregation and serve them at all costs, or the priests who obeyed their Bishops and the secular authorities and declined to visit the ill and dying in hospitals during the 2020 covid panic? I can certainly tell you my opinion of the priests who bugged out on their people, but it’s not for me to say. People died without the sacraments. I would be curious to know how they will answer to God for that when they go to judgement. It is well established at this point that even those who have BEEN vaccinated and boosted are STILL becoming ill with covid. So, whats the REAL beef?? What difference,and why is the Bishop trying so hard to get rid of this priest? Maybe its time for the hysterical types to stay locked up at home and leave the rest of us alone.

    • 2 Timothy1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love and a sound mind. It is quite apparent this loving, spirit filled priest from Burlington has been gifted by God with these. He holds fast to protecting his own body from a shot that he considers unsafe, and also rejects testing and masking which are not necessary or helpful in any way, which expert doctors and scientists have proven. But of course these doctors and scientists have been persecuted into being censored and removed from uttering the TRUTH !!
      We are all being tested through all this, especially the faithful, we are either for Christ and the truth, or we are not. The “Fence” is gone. Denying the faithful of their priests, and the “life giving sacraments” will not sit well with Almighty God, come judgmentday!
      God’s Will Done, May His Kingdom Come!

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